Japan discussing Russian oil import ban with US, Europe

Kyodo News

Posted at Mar 07 2022 03:53 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2022 03:55 PM

TOKYO - Japan is discussing a ban on oil imports from Russia with the United States and European countries, a government source close to the matter said Monday, as Moscow's attack on populated areas and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine continues.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida underscored the need for Japan to act with Western countries in dealing with Russia's aggression against Ukraine as he appeared at a House of Councillors Budget Committee session.

While the international community has been stepping up pressure on Russia since its invasion on Feb. 24, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Washington and European allies are now exploring banning imports of Russian oil.

"We should not think it is somebody else's problem in Europe. International order also covering Asia is being shaken," Kishida said during the parliamentary session.

He also said Russia and China have maintained close relations and the Japanese government will "pay close attention to the moves of the two countries, including their foreign policies."

The situation in Ukraine escalated by Russia, a major oil producer, has sent oil prices higher and stocks lower, with the Nikkei index plunging over 3 percent in the morning in Tokyo.

Amid growing fears over potential serious ramifications for the global economy, there are some calls in Japan to invoke a trigger clause designed to cut gasoline taxes.

Kishida said in the upper house committee he will consider every option to ease the impact of the soaring oil prices on Japan's economy.

But the government is likely to forgo invoking the clause at least for the time being, as it has already decided on increasing subsidies for oil wholesalers.